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Workers' Memorial Day During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Jeremy Sprinkle
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"How many more workers have to get sick and die before the Department of Labor steps up?"

MaryBe McMillan, president

Safety is a huge issue for working people right now, especially for all the essential workers who are working harder than ever to provide us with critical goods and services during this pandemic. Every day we're hearing reports about workers like nurses, firefighters, grocery clerks, and food processors who are contracting COVID-19 at work. And too may are dying deaths that could've been prevented if employers had provided the proper Personal Protective Equipment and enforced social distancing guidelines. A big question right now is who's responsible for ensuring worker safety?

Neither the federal nor state Departments of Labor have issued an Emergency Infectious Disease Standard, although they could and should do so. Because they lack that standard, officials say they have no authority to enforce guidelines. Workers who see that guidelines aren't be followed in the workplace are being told to call local law enforcement. Telling vulnerable workers to call the cops on their boss is absurd and completely unacceptable! How many more workers have to get sick and die before the Department of Labor steps up?

This Tuesday, April 28th, is Workers' Memorial Day. It's when we remember all workers who died on the job. It's also a time when we vow to do better. We must do more to protect worker safety, especially during this pandemic. This Tuesday, April 28th, we're asking for your help to remember all the union members and workers who've died recently from COVID-19, and to remember the 178 workers in North Carolina who died on the job in 2018, the last year for which we have complete statistics.

We're also asking you to help put pressure on the Department of Labor to step up, do more to protect worker safety, and to enact an Infectious Disease Standard. Let's send a message this Tuesday, April 28th, that safe jobs are essential for all workers!

Take just a minute on Tuesday, and take a selfie with a sign. It could say "Safe Jobs are Essential for ALL Workers!" or it could have another safety message - and put it on social media using the hashtag #WMD2020.

With your help, we can remember our brothers and sisters who died on the job, and we can work to make sure others do not die needlessly.

Thank you for your help and your solidarity. Please stay safe. Stay strong. Until next time. --MaryBe McMillan, president

Post your selfie online using #WMD2020 and leave a review on the NC Department of Labor's Facebook page:

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